[float_image image=”https://www.qsrmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/donatosgreengoddes.jpg” width=”30″ link=”https://www.qsrmagazine.com//reports/2021-qsrr-magazine-drive-thru-study” caption=”” alt=”Donatos’ Green Goddess Salad” align=”right” /]

The drive-thru proved the great restaurant separator during COVID-19. Drive-thru visits increased 26 percent in the April, May, and June quarter of 2020 and represented 42 percent of all industry traffic, according to The NPD Group. It was a remarkable surge, but a sign of the times America’s biggest restaurant players had to respond to.

To say they met the challenge would be a vast understatement. Everything from AI to conveyor belts to drive-thru-only prototypes sprung up out of the pandemic climate.

In this year’s QSR magazine Drive-Thru Study, we took a look at how operators navigated shifts in consumer behavior brought forth by COVID, positioned for the “next normal,” what it means for the environment, and how the best brands emerged from the pack. The underlying point—speed is not the straightforward metric it once was. You might even ask, does speed of service matter anymore? The truth is, it’s a complicated answer, and the key to everything moving forward.

Click the links in the chart to explore this year’s study, starting with how the future of drive-thru has already arrived.


The 2021 QSR® magazine Drive-Thru Study Methodology:

The FoodserviceResults team, in partnership with QSR magazine, conducted a comprehensive, nationally representative survey of drive-thru consumers in the U.S. using an online survey sample. Additionally, onsite audits were conducted at the top 10 drive-thru chains in the U.S. Both waves of the research were conducted in July 2021. Leveraging insights from numerous industry experts, the finalized survey was completed by 1,007 drive-thru consumers during fieldwork. To ensure a relevant respondent base was achieved, all participants were screened to only include those who had at least one drive-thru occasion in the last 30 days. The onsite drive-thru audits were balanced against geographic region (West, South, Midwest, and Northeast) and were conducted to coincide with breakfast, lunch, and dinner dayparts. In total, 312 audits were conducted at 10 top quick-service restaurant chains across the U.S. An extensive cross tabulation of the respondent sample data was conducted in order to identify major trends, demographic/behavioral themes, and other nuances in the data.

Drive Thru, Fast Food, Special Reports